Debate on NWFP budget 2004-2005: Govt ignored our uplift schemes: opposition
* Says too little money for industry and agriculture
* ANP legislator says assembly, not MMA government, pressured federal govt to increase power profit
By Zakir Hassnain
PESHAWAR: The government ignored all development schemes proposed by the opposition and allocated too little money for agriculture and industry in the provincial budget for 2004-2005, opposition members said in the budget debate on Wednesday.
The treasury benches showered praise on the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) government. Tahir bin Yameen, independent MPA, said none of the schemes he presented to the government had been included in the Annual Development Programme (ADP).
Mr Yameen said the government should have unearthed 21,000 ghost schools running in the province instead of launching adult education centres. He said southern districts were deprived of clean drinking water and no significance attention had paid to this grave problem. Awami National Party MPA Khalil Abbas said of the province’s population of 20 million, 44 percent lived below the poverty line. “That means 8.8 million people don’t have enough money to buy a square meal a day,” he said.
Mr Abbas said 51 percent of the land in the province was not under cultivation. He said the increase in the electricity net profit from Rs 6 billion to Rs 8 billion was not due to the efforts of the MMA government but because the provincial assembly pressured the federal government to raise the net profit.
He said tourism was a potential source of poverty alleviation, but the budget contained an only 0.4 percent allocation for the sector. He said industry was only allocated one percent of funds in the budget.
Mian Nisar Gul, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) MPA, suggested the construction of small dams in Karak district to solve the water shortage. He criticised Federal Water and Power Minister Aftab Sherpao for not honouring his promise to provide 40 transformers to the area. His condemnation of the minister triggered argument.
Habibur Rehman (MMA) eulogised the government and the chief minister for over 35 minutes without mentioning the budget, drawing protests and boos from the opposition. Mureed Kazim, parliamentary leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), complained that none of his schemes was in the ADP.
He said the government was ignoring him and instead listening to an un-elected person who was the brother of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F).
The PPP leader said there was nothing in the budget for agriculture, which was the backbone of the economy. He asked the government to announce a special package for agriculture.
Qazi Muhammad Asad, Pakistan Muslim League (PML) MPA, urged the government to exempt property tax on small house. He also proposed the government provide free food to the poor and more incentives to industry.
Akhtar Nawaz Khan of the MMA demanded 100 free electricity units for those displaced by the Tarbela Dam. Tajul Amin (MMA), Dr Muhammad Saleem (independent) and Tariq Khattak (PPPP) also took part in the debate. Speaker Bakht Jehan adjourned the house till today (Thursday).